Tuesdays With Hildy: Who Was Your First Hockey Valentine?

I'm generally not a fan of Valentine's Day -- I distrust any one day designed to make Hallmark rich and single people as well as guys feel terrible. I also distrust any holiday that can be abbreviated "VD." However as I sit here sick at home, which really is super appropriate I suppose, I got to thinking about the holiday in hockey terms. It made it much more palatable to me, more so than the time my boyfriend forgot to book someplace and took me to Waffle House.

You know what's better than space cadet boyfriends? Hockey first loves. Everyone has them, man or woman. It might be for a completely superficial reason, it might be a man crush, it might be because of something that player's done in the community (I have a friend who loves Slava Kozlov because he kept a creeper from staring down her dress at a casino night once). It might not be for any real reason at all, but we all have that first player who captured our attention and our hockey hearts.

Mine was Patrick Roy. I have always respected goaltenders and their craziness. You have to be a bit off to want little disks of rubber to come flying at your face in speeds in excess of 100 MPH. You can't be normal and do this for a career. Patrick Roy caught my attention for the supreme level of crazy he was, as well as the supreme amount of goaltending talent he possessed. I mean, he played in tiny pads and still kicked ass. I would love to see some of the modern day goalies take the marshmallows off and go for it (granted, yes, I know the sticks are different now too, but that's no excuse for the goalie to take up 5/6ths of the crease).

I would also love to see someone who has given us so many crazy moments over time. Whether it's having the balls to mock the Montreal crowd's boos to their faces and telling their coach that he would never play another game for that team again, or it's giving Jeremy Roenick the greatest comeback in sports history, Roy's always been a card.

He's a card who has also made some questionable decisions. Spousal abuse tarnished his reputation, he destroyed then Avalanche coach Bob Hartley's office once in a temper tantrum, and he encouraged his son to fight in a QMJHL game, which got both of them suspended. Also, he allowed his son to pursue a career in hip hop, which is a huge demerit.

Still, though, you can't deny his place as one of the greatest goaltenders in the game's history, and it was his skills that captured my attention as a kid. The crazy? It probably just cemented his place in my heart. Also, he has a habit of going after Red Wings goalies, such as Chris Osgood and Mike Vernon.

No, batshit insanity is not a qualification that I hold for a significant other candidate (although I've managed my share), but it is one that I hold for my goaltenders. St. Patrick was the one that got that all started for me.

So, SLGTers, who was your first hockey Valentine?

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